Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dr. Laszlo Szabo Presents Hungarian Wines From Tokaj, Eger, & Villány

"These botrytis grapes are picked by hand as they raisin so that it may take six trips to pick the entire cluster", Hungarian Ambassador Dr. Laszlo Szabo
On Monday, November 19, 2008, the Embassy of Hungary hosted a Hungarian wine tasting featuring various wines from three major regions Tokaj, Villány, and Eger.  The Ambassador Dr. Laszlo Szabo conducted the presentation and displayed a mastery of that country's wine styles, grapes, and regions. The wines consisted of four brands each representing various styles such as the wonderful dry Furmint wines to the historic Tokaji Aszú dessert wines from Tokaj. The latter is the focus on the above quote where Dr. Szabo not only emphasized the labor-intensive harvest but also the Puttonyos system which measures the sugar intensity of the Tokaji Aszú wines. The wine brands were Orosz Gabor and Bodvin from Orosz Gabor (Tokaj), Sauska (Villány), and St. Andrea (Eger).

Tokaji Dry Furmint
In general, these wines display crisp minerality as a result of the volcanic soils both in the Tokaj region of Eastern Hungary and in the Somló region of western Hungary. The grape is sometimes blended with Hárslevelű to provide more fruit and depth and can be labeled Furmint with 30% other grape varieties. The wines to seek out from this tasting are:

Villány Kadarka & Cuvee
This wine region located in southwestern Hungary lies at the same degree of latitude as the northern part of Bordeaux. Mountains in the north protect the area from cold northerly winds, while the southern ranges help establish a micro-climate where the number of sunny hours is the highest in the country. Villány is known for Bordeaux, Rhone, and Burgundy grape varieties as well as a few indigenous grapes like Kékfrankos and Kadarka. The later grape variety makes lighter bodied wines with cherries and spice character as evident by the Sauska 2015 Kadarka.  Think Pinot Noir.  Sauska also produces a Bordeaux styled red blend the 2015 Villány Cuvee 7 which is aged 15 months French Oak and is a fantastic silky textured wine.

Eger Egri Bikavér
Eger is located in northeastern Hungary at the base of the Bukk Mountains. It has a cooler climate which is represented in "enhanced acidity, rich aromas, and elegant tannins". Once again volcanic soil is in play planted with multiple red and white grape varieties. These include both international and indigenous varietals such as Kékfrankos, Kadarka, and Turán -- a grape that has migrated to the Pacific Northwest and goes by Agria. And all are possible participants in the famous Egri Bikavér red wines - famous for the imagery of Hungarian soldiers fighting off the Turks at Eger Castle with their beards stained red from the Bulls Blood. Here is the trio of excellent wines from St Andrea:

Tokaj Dessert Wines
Dessert wines from Tokaji range from late harvest wines to the aforementioned Tokaji Aszú. Szamorodni is a traditional late harvest style where depending on the sugar level of the grapes, can be made Száraz (Dry) or Édes (Sweet) Szamorodni. The Bodvin 2016 Tokaji Édes Szamorodni is a nice example of the sweeter style with full apricot flavors and elevated acids to alleviate the sugar. Another late harvest option was the Orosz Gabor 2015 Tokaji Sárgamuskotály -- basically an un-botrytised late harvest Yellow Muscat. This wine exudes the familiar muscat aroma with layers of acids and salt to once again balance the sugar.

Finally, there were two true Tokaji Aszú wines made from fully botrytised individually harvested grapes. These were five and six puttonyus wines, the highest classifications, and starting with the Bodvin 2013 Tokaji Aszú 5 puttonyus. This wine was aged three years in oak and is fabulous with a deep apricot base and the inherent acidity to keep the wine fresh. The highlight of the evening was the Orosz Gabor 2007 Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyus that according to Dr. Szabo sells at the Trump Hotel for $140 a teaspoon. The wine is still fresh after three years in barrel and eight years in the bottle and shows the result of waiting for only outstanding years to make this wine. Egészségére.
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